Anyone have a client who comes in every single month for a treatment, buys retail, and their skin still looks like a nightmare? Tanned, lined, dry, and so dehydrated it vaguely resembles parchment paper? The first time it happened, I was convinced I was the worst aesthetician in the world. But, during a marathon laundry session with my manager, who was also an aesthetician, I grumbly told her either I sucked or the products sucked. She rolled her eyes and said words that changed my life. “Is she using what you sold her?” I looked at her confused. Well, duh. She bought it and it’s expensive, why wouldn’t she use it? But it tickled at my mind and, when she came in for her next service, I asked her what she was using on her skin. To my shock and dismay, she was using nothing she’d bought. With a slightly embarrassed look, she told me she loved trying new things and that she had used the things she bought from me for about a week and she loved it. Wait, what?
The next time I had a client doing all the right things but not seeing results, I knew immediately she wasn’t being compliant. So, I asked if she was using her products. She proudly answered yes and then told me she always made sure she applied her serum and moisturizer the moment she finished tanning to rehydrate her skin. Again, wait, what? I reminded the client that all the products in the world wouldn’t help her wrinkles and sunspots if she didn’t stay out of the sun. “But I only tan March through August. The rest of the year, I’m sun free,” was her reply. After that, I had a few DIYers, a couple dozen more tanners, and long list of product junkies. Some of you might be screaming at me to fire them, but, honestly, what good would that do?
The client’s reason for coming in for a facial might not be the reason you think the client should be coming in for a facial. Are you sick of hearing that from me yet? But it’s true. It took me longer to come to terms with that fact than it did any other part of being an aesthetician. Can you counsel them? Sure. Will they listen? Probably not. But what you can do is make sure they understand the consequences of non-compliance. Let me tell you about Tina. Tina had been a regular for about three years. When I say regular, I don’t mean every single month. I could go upwards of six months without laying eyes on Tina. That’s because Tina forgets she has skin from spring to the beginning of fall. As soon as the leaves started to change, I saw her twice a month. She would buy retail at least once a month, she prebooked, she upgraded her services, she showed up happy and on time – she was a dream client. Except, any progress we made through the fall and winter had been completely eradicated by months of saltwater, forgetting to wash her face, and brutal sun exposure. The first cycle I dealt with this I was dumbstruck. We had made so much progress and now we were back at the beginning, if not worse.
At this point, I’d been in the industry long enough to know preaching to Tina wouldn’t get me anywhere. It would only make her angry or sad, neither of which I wanted. So, at her next appointment, I scheduled an extra 15 minutes at the end of her service for a chat. I explained that the tools I had at hand could only do so much within the six-month window she gave me in which to work on her skin. I went into a small amount of detail on what products did, limitations, and how she’d never see improvement if we continued as we’d been doing for the last year and a half. She nodded her head, smiled, and said she understood. I didn’t see Tina again for six months. Then, we started the process all over. This continued until I moved on to another job.
If you have a non-compliant client, sit them down and explain the limitations of what you can do unless they stop practicing bad habits. Once you know they understand, continue with treatments you think will benefit the client in that moment. One day they may see the error of their ways, but maybe not. The key is to educate and do your best, and the rest is up to them.
Shelly Steadman is a licensed aesthetician and educator with over 11 years’ experience in the skin care industry. After spending the last six years of her career behind a teacher’s podium training new aestheticians, she transitioned back into a treatment room. Steadman is currently working as an aesthetician at artistrySPASALON in the beautiful city of Franklin, Tennessee.